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HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL PLAYOFFS

Watch now: Mount Pulaski baseball tops St. Teresa to win Class 1A regional crown

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Head coach Joel Washko talks about win over St. Teresa.

MOUNT PULASKI — Mount Pulaski pitcher Drew Martin was dominating, throwing six scoreless innings and 10 strikeouts, against St. Teresa in Monday's Class 1A regional final at Veteran's Park in Mount Pulaski. 

When Bulldogs runners got on base, the Hilltoppers defense picked up the slack, with three runners thrown out stealing by catcher Jackson Fricke. Mount Pulaski won 3-1 to capture the regional championship and advance to the sectional semifinals. 

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Mt. Pulaski starting pitcher Drew Martin (3) celebrates after winning the game against St. Teresa. More photos and video at www.herald-review.com

"We had great pitching from Drew. He gave us an outstanding start and he went as far as he could possibly go today," Mount Pulaski head coach Joel Washko said. "All year, we have had great pitching and great offense, but I think our defense really came through today. If we didn't make some of those plays, we are probably looking at a different result. Our defense has kind of been the unsung hero all year and it came through for us."

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Mt. Pulaski starting pitcher Drew Martin (3) pitches in the 3rd inning against St. Teresa. More photos and video at www.herald-review.com

Martin's control was a challenge at times as he walked three and hit five St. Teresa batters. 

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"I definitely had to battle through a couple of innings because I didn't have my best stuff going out there today," Martin said. "I really had to grind it and my defense backed me up and I came out with the W. 

"Our defense was key. We had some double plays and threw some runners out. It has been a great season overall and we've had a lot of ups. We lost the final game of the regular season but we have picked up steam since then and our job is not done yet."

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St. Teresa starting pitcher Matt Brummer (14) against Mt. Pulaski. More photos and video at www.herald-review.com

The Hilltoppers' offense has scored nine or more runs 14 times this season but St. Teresa pitcher Matt Brummer limited Mount Pulaski to single runs in the first, second and fourth innings.  

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"Matt did a good job on the mound. We made a few mistakes in the field behind him and what hurt him was our base running mistakes," St. Teresa head coach J.D. Arnold said. "We ran into too many outs on the bases. He battled for us and kept us in the game because it could have gotten ugly pretty early."

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Mt. Pulaski's pitcher Evan Cooper (1) is hugged by catcher Jackson Fricke (5) after winning the game against St. Teresa. More photos and video at www.herald-review.com

Down 3-0 in the top of the seventh, St. Teresa loaded the bases and with one out, Jake Blackburn hit a drive to centerfield that scored Michael Martini from 3rd. But Elijah Wills was caught stealing at second and Mount Pulaski relief pitcher Evan Cooper struck out Cameron Knapik for the final out, ending the rally. 

"Evan is just a kid that comes in and competes and is so level headed. No situation gets to him. For a sophomore, that is rare. He came in when they had the momentum and made pitches. He was able to stabilize it," Washko said. "(Matt Brummer) was outstanding for St. Teresa. He is a great pitcher with a big-time future, no doubt about it. He's tough out there and we had chances to get more runs and really, he pitched out of a lot of those jams. We were just sort of able to scratch our a run here and there."

Arnold was pleased with his St. Teresa team's (10-12) performance in this COVID-delayed season that saw play extended into June. 

"It was an odd season and it was up and down. We played some good baseball at times and some baseball that was less desirable at some times," he said "All in all, we got to where we wanted to be and we were in a regional championship at the end of the year. We just fell a little short today."

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Mt. Pulaski's first base Grant Davis (1) in the 7th inning against St. Teresa. More photos and video at www.herald-review.com

The Hilltoppers won a regional championship in the 2018-19 season and the 2019-20 season was lost to a COVID cancellation. Mount Pulaski last won a baseball sectional in 2003-04. 

"I'm proud of the guys and we have been waiting for this type of game for two years now," Washko said. "It has been a long wait and we knew it was going to be tough today. We are fortunate and we are proud to have a chance to move on."

Mount Pulaski (18-1) advances to the sectional semifinal and will play the winner of No. 7 seed Catlin (Salt Fork) and No. 3 seed Champaign (St. Thomas More) on Wed. at 4:30 p.m. at Mount Pulaski. 

"It is one at a time and we know it is going to be an absolute grind with how they have the postseason this year really bunched together. Wednesday is the next one up and we get to host and we will be ready for whoever showed up," Washko said. "Catlin Salt Fork ended our season two years ago, so we remember those guys. I'm sure they have some new faces. We will expect another type of ball game just like today."


Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten

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